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News Sites Now Treat Late-Night Anti-Trump Rants As Real News

Media Bias: If you rely on the nation’s top news sites to determine what was really important about the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit, the answer would be: How did Trump-hating late-night talk-show hosts react? We are not kidding. This is how low the mainstream press has sunk.

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On the front page of the Washington Post’s website this morning was a picture of “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert and this headline: “Late-night hosts skewer Trump.”

How is this news exactly? That same headline could literally have run any day of the week for the past two years. It is so predictable that it doesn’t even rate as a “Dog Bites Man” story, but more like a “The Sun Rose in the East Today” story.

Here and below are screen shots from front pages of news sites Tuesday morning.

Yet there it was, smack dab in the middle of the Post’s front page on one of the biggest news days of the year.

The Post wasn’t alone. ABC News also prominently featured a line by Colbert — whose show runs on CBS — that Trump’s comments at his press conference with Vladimir Putin should be considered “treason.” (Which made Colbert about the 500th person to say this on the air that day.)

At the top of NBC News this morning was the headline: “Helsinki has frozen over: Late night hosts mock Trump-Putin summit.” The link took readers to a professionally edited montage of last night’s monologues.

At the top of Google News’ main page this morning was yet another reference to Colbert, this time to the fact that he wants to know “what Putin had on Trump.”

The Daily Beast featured Jimmy Kimmel’s take on the Trump-Putin summit at the top of its page with the headline “Jimmy Kimmel: Pee tape exists beyond a treasonable doubt.” Get it? “Treasonable.” Hard news, there.

The Daily Beast didn’t just link to a clip. There’s an actual reporter’s byline on that story. Matt Wilstein’s piece begins: “Jimmy Kimmel has one big takeaway from the ‘strangest of all 542 bizarre days of Donald Trump’s reign of error’: The pee tape is real.”

CNN, too, ran a bylined piece today about how “Late night blasts Trump-Putin summit.”

Let’s remember: Colbert, Kimmel, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, et al., are not newsmakers. They aren’t leaders. They’re not even in the news business. They are entertainers, with dubious backgrounds.

Kimmel got his start on “The Man Show,” a proudly misogynistic show that regularly featured bikini-clad women bouncing on trampolines.

Before taking over the Daily Show, Noah co-hosted a South African game show called “The Amazing Date,” in which viewers at home competed to win a date with the contestant on the show.

Colbert used to pretend to be a liberal’s caricature of a conservative in an attempt to get laughs on Comedy Central. Oliver was a stand-up comedian. Meyers’ only relationship to the news is that for a few years he played an anchor on Saturday Night Live’s fake news bit.

So why do actual news sites link to these clowns, day after day, and treat their banal utterances as news?

No doubt one reason is that people click on them. Four of the six top trending stories on the Huffington Post this morning were links to clips of late-night talk-show rants.

The Huffington Post — a news site built on click bait — arguably started this trend by regularly featuring clips on its front page from Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” in which he routinely mocked, skewered, lambasted, taunted, shamed and derided Republicans. When every late-night host decided that bashing Trump on a nightly basis was good for ratings, HuffPo amped up its “coverage.” And the practice started to spread like a virus to other more mainstream news outlets.

But is the “race for clicks” excuse reason enough to lower journalistic standards so far?

The more likely reason is ideological. The mainstream press hates Trump — and Republicans generally — and these “comics” provide a useful service by amplifying its hatred.

Playing up comics’ monologues as news is just another way for these journalists to keep the negative coverage flowing.

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